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Cider

A short history of normandy’s quintessential tipple !

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Normandy Cider

The first cider-drinkers were the Egyptians and Hebrews. Cider arrived in the Basque Country with the Romans and from there production spread throughout the west of France up until the end of the 1800s.

Cider was a commonplace drink, but as the pace of the rural exodus increased, the popularity of cider was overtaken by those of beer and wine. During the 1960s, the French government and the EEC started giving subsidies to farmers to plough up their apple orchards and to plant cereal crops. This lead to 1 million apple trees being ripped up in the west of France.

On average, 2 litres of cider per person per year are drunk in France today, against 70 litres in 1900 (in certain parts of Normandy it was up to 600 litres!).

 

Big trees and little trees

There are two types of apple trees, taller ones with higher branches and those which are smaller and with branches are nearer to the ground and each type has its own attributes.

High branched trees

These were more common because cattle could graze below them in the same field. Cider production was a supplement to dairy and beef farming. Their disadvantage is that they take some time to start producing apples (at least 12 years before they give a decent crop).

Low branched trees

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Low branched apple trees

These smaller varieties starts to produce apples after only 4 years on average but are more prone to illness and there lifespan is only about 25 years, compared to 60 years for the high branched trees.  Because of their short height, cattle and other animals have to be kept away from them. Even so, an orchard of these small trees is more productive, producing 25 tonnes of apples per hectare compared to 10 tonnes per hectare for high branched trees.

 

….And what about the apples ?

We combine several different apple varieties to make our cider. The blending and the outcome are different in each region, so there’s a multitude of different traditionally-made ciders available!

 

Cider apples are different from eating apples, They tend to be smaller and aren’t very good to eat.

There are over 400 different varieties classed in 4 different families: bitter, bittersweet, sweet and acid.

Cider making, a ancient art !

Today, some cider makers endeavour to keep alive the knowledge and know-how which has been passed down through generations.

The apples are harvested in Autumn. Next, they are sorted, washed and scratted. The resulting pulp is then pressed, nowadays using an hydraulic press. Before, many farms had their own wooden presses in order to meet the local demand for cider, which was the only drink available in the countryside.

The juice is the put into vats. Apples naturally contain sugars and yeasts and its this yeast that transforms the sugar into alcohol by fermentation.

Depending on how long since the cider has been bottled, it will be either:

  • sweet (short fermentation time)
  • medium-dry (medium fermentation time)
  • dry (long fermentation time)

After bottling, it is then stored for a time while the natural yeasts continues the fermenting process in the traditionally made ciders which are not pasteurised. It’s this second fermentation which produces the gas to make it sparkling.

If the juice is pasteurised after pressing, the yeasts are killed off. Without them it won’t ferment and will be simply apple juice!

Pommeau, eau de vie de cidre and Calvados are also produced from cider apples and are found in local delicacies and sauces-along with cream of course! Don’t think about leaving the area without trying some of them!

The latest thing to come from Villequier is Cidered Beef! Cider is incorporated in to the feed of beef cattle for the last four months and it gives the meat an exceptional taste and tenderness.

our cider producers

There are several cider makers in the Caux-Seine Valley area, so why not pay them a visit to have a chat about, and try some of, the drink, which is such an important part of Normandy!

Le Clos des Citots – Gérard Lenormand

76940 Heurteauville
+33 (0)2 35 37 92 59

 

Le P’tit Clos Normand – François-Xavier Craquelin

Hameau des Coudréaux 76490 Villequier
+33 (0)2 35 56 76 82
+33 (0)6 62 32 90 02

 

L’éco-musée de la pomme et du cidre – Vincent Godefroy

1315 route de Goderville 76110 Bretteville du Grand Caux
+33 (0)2 35 27 41 09

Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health. Please drink sensibly.

 

Tourist Office of Caux Vallée de Seine

Tourist Office of Caux Vallée de Seine - Maison de l'intercommunalité allée du Catillon - 76170 Lillebonne - Normandie - France

+33 (0)2 32 70 46 32